Art Institute of Chicago has the greatest Impressionist collection outside of Paris.

It is the only Museum in the world to be top-ranked by TripAdvisor for four years continuously.

In fact, Art Institute of Chicago is the Number 1 thing to do in the Chicago.

In this article, we explain everything you must know before visiting the Art Institute of Chicago.

1. How to reach
2. Opening hours
3. Best time to visit
4. Free day
5. Tour duration
6. Museum highlights
7. Entry tickets
8. Museum Artworks
9. Star painters
10. Museum map
11. Audio Guide
12. Restaurants

How to reach the Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago is in the heart Chicago’s downtown – adjacent to Millennium Park and steps away from Lake Michigan.

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Art Institute of Chicago entrances

Art Institute of Chicago is made up of two buildings – the Michigan Avenue Building and the Modern Wing, and both are connected by a bridge.

Michigan Avenue Building was built in 1893 while the Modern Wing was added in 2009.

You can choose to enter the Museum from either of the entrances.

Here is a layout which explains these two buildings and what to expect in each.


1. Michigan Avenue Entrance

Address: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60603.

Directions to Michigan Avenue Entrance

2. Modern Wing Entrance

Address: 159 East Monroe Street, Chicago, Illinois 60603

Directions to Modern Wing Entrance

Public transport

The museum stands one block East to the Loop, making it accessible via “L” train system.

You can also use the Brown, Green, Orange, Pink and Purple lines which stop above ground at Adams/Wabash Station which is one block West to the Museum.

The Red and Blue lines stop underground at Monroe Station, some blocks away.

You can also use Metra, Chicago’s yet another commuter rail system, to get to Van Buren Metra Station or Millennium station and walk your way to the Art Museum.

Art Institute Chicago parking

Valet Parking service is available at the Modern Wing entrance from 10:30 am to 5 pm, at 28 dollars per car.

However, if you prefer to park yourself, you have several parking options.

The best of course is to use SpotHero find and reserve parking near the Museum before your visit.

Else there is enough space in Millennium Garages, the underground parking lot just below the parks adjacent to the Museum. For spot availability and rates call (312) 616-0600.

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Art Institute of Chicago hours

The Art Institute of Chicago stays open daily from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm.

On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday the Art Museum is open till 8 pm.

The Museum and its shops stay closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

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Best time to visit Art Institute of Chicago


If you prefer to walk and explore the artworks in peace, the best time to visit Art Institute of Chicago is between 12 pm to 3 pm.

However, Art Institute of Chicago is so massive that it can accommodate a lot of people without making it feel crowded.

Just remember to buy your tickets online, in advance, so that you don’t end up wasting time in the ticket counter lines.

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How long does Art Institute of Chicago take?

On an average, visitors to Art Institute of Chicago spend 3 to 4 hours exploring all the art works.

Those who love art, are known to spend even six hours at the Art Museum.

If you plan to stay longer, we recommend regular visits to the restaurants/cafés to recharge yourself (and to avoid art fatigue).

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Art Institute of Chicago free day

If you are an Illinois resident, the best time for you to visit is Wednesday, between 5 pm to 8 pm.

Every week, for these three hours locals can get in without buying any admission tickets.

However, they must display a valid resident ID proof at the entrance.

If you do not have a ID card issued by the State, you can bring along your lease agreement, bill, or some mail which shows your name and has your Illinois address.

While the Illinois residents enjoy their free day on Wednesday, some section of the visitors can enter for free all through the year.

Kids under 14

Children under fourteen years of age can enter for free, daily.

Is it always free for local teens?

Local teenagers (age 14 to 17 years) needn’t buy a ticket as long as they can present a valid ID proof at the entrance.

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Chicago Art Museum highlights


If you are in a hurry, it is possible to explore the masterpieces of the Museum in only one hour.

Here are the exhibits you can see within 60 minutes.

Serial No. Masterpiece and it’s location
1.Ando Gallery, Gallery 109 (1st Floor)
2.El Greco’s The Assumption of the Virgin, Gallery 211 (2nd Floor)
3.Armor for Man and Horse, Gallery 239 (2nd Floor)
4.Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884, Gallery 240 (2nd Floor)
5.Claude Monet’s Stacks of Wheat, Gallery 243 (2nd Floor)
6.Georgia O’Keeffe’s Sky above Clouds IV, Gallery 249 (2nd Floor)
7.Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, Gallery 262 (2nd Floor)
8.Archibald John Motley, Jr.’s Nightlife, Gallery 263 (2nd Floor)
9.Marc Chagall’s America Windows, Gallery 144 (1st Floor)
10.Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, Gallery 391 (3rd Floor)
11.Joan Mitchell’s City Landscape, Gallery 291 (2nd Floor)
12.Andy Warhol’s Liz #3, Gallery 296 (2nd Floor)

If you get in through the Michigan Avenue entrance, start from No 1 and finish at 12.

If you get in through the Modern Wing entrance, start at No 12 and work backward.

You can use the numbers mentioned to find the artwork on the floor.

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Art Institute of Chicago tickets

Image: J Brown, Chicago Photographer

With this skip the line ticket, you can avoid waiting in the long lines at the ticket counter and get to the art galleries right away.

No print outs needed. At the entrance of the Museum, just show the email you receive after the purchase of this ticket and walk in.

With this Art Institute of Chicago ticket, you can also join the free guided tour which starts at noon.

For a full refund, cancel this ticket at least 24 hours before your planned visit.

Tickets price

Adult ticket (18 to 64 years): 35 USD
Seniors ticket (65+ years): 29 USD
Youth ticket (15 to 17 years): 29 USD
Child ticket (0 to 13 years): Free entry

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Art Institute of Chicago artworks

The exhibits at this Museum can be broadly categorized as paintings & other artworks.

Famous paintings

The Museum’s walls are lined with art from around the world.

Each painting is equally enchanting and captures the attention of the visitors.

However, if one must identify the best of the lot, here is our recommendation –

1. A Sunday afternoon on the island of La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat

“Little drops make the mighty ocean.” 

In here, little dots made a mighty artwork.

This large painting uses the pointillist technique to depict a casual scene of French riverside.

2. Nighthawks by Edward Hopper

Nighthawks is one of the most recognizable paintings of the 20th century.

The painting shows an all-night diner with customers and employees in a secluded setting of NYC.

3. The Bedroom by Vincent van Gogh

This Vincent Van Gogh masterpiece can be found in Gallery 241 of the Chicago Art Museum.

Vincent Van Gogh painted three versions of The Bedroom which is a colorful representation of his life.

The original is housed in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

4. American Gothic by Grant Wood

This painting represents the shift from farming to industrialization in America in the 1930s.

The painting depicts an expressive farmer standing beside his sister.

5. Child’s bath by Mary Cassatt

This three-dimensional painting shows a child being bathed by an adult.

This painting came by at the end of the 19th century making her the only American artist in the exhibition of French Impressionists.

6. Water Lilies by Claude Monet

The Art Institute of Chicago holds a special delegation of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series.

These 250 paintings were completed in the last 30 years of his life. 

The range depicts exquisite flowers from his French home.

Other must-see masterpieces

Besides the paintings here are many other masterpieces you must not miss during your visit to the Art Institute of Chicago.

We list a few –

1. The Thorne Miniature Rooms

This dollhouse was built by fine craftsmen with interesting detail.

Kids are left awestruck with this reproduction of 17th and 20th-century palaces, cathedrals and residences.

Watch this video to know more –

2. The Modern Wing

The most recent addition to the museum is an outstanding example of architecture.

The European Modernism gallery holds artworks by Picasso, Dali and many more with rotating film exhibits.

3. American Windows by Marc Chagall

This blue-tinted recently restored window has a history of leaving the visitors speechless.

4. Field armor for man and horse

The armors displayed both for man and horse were produced in Nuremberg, Germany in the 16th century.

The dynamic action form of this piece of art has wowed one and all.

5. Buddha Shakyamuni seated in meditation

The statue comes from a South Indian town, Nagapattinam and dates to the 12th century.

Buddha is seated in lotus posture with a calming face. You can also spot the mark on his forehead called ‘urna.’

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Star painters at the Art Institute

The Art Institute of Chicago is full of paintings from renowned artists from around the World, and across different eras.

However, paintings by two painters’ get a lot of attention from the visitors.

Van Gogh at Art Institute of Chicago

There is a total of 17 artworks by Van Gogh displayed in the museum.

The most important being –

1.    The Bedroom (1889)
2.    Self-Portrait (1887)
3.    The Poet’s Garden (1888)
4.    Madame Roulin Rocking the Cradle (1889)
5.    The Drinkers (1890)

Claude Monet at Art Institute of Chicago

There is a total of 46 artworks by Claude Monet presented in the museum.

His top five crowd-pullers are –

1.    Stacks of Wheat (189/91)
2.    Water Lilies (1906)
3.    Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare (1877)
4.    The Beach at Saints- Adresse (1867)
5.   Cliff Walk at Pourville (1882)

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Art Institute of Chicago map

At Art Institute of Chicago, exhibits are spread over total floor space of one million square feet!

For a first-time visitor, its sheer size can be overwhelming.

That’s why we recommend carrying a museum map with you while you roam around.

Besides helping you find the masterpieces, this map can also help you find visitor services such as restrooms, cafes, escalators, Museum shop, ramps, etc.

Bookmark this page to get back later from your mobile, or download the map here (pdf).

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Art Institute of Chicago Audio Guide

You can rent Chicago Art Museum’s audio guide from the audio guide counter in the Michigan Avenue or Modern Wing lobbies.

You must pay 7 dollars per person, to keep the audio guide with you till your tour of the Museum is over.

It is available in English, French, Spanish, and Chinese.

These devices are free for visually impaired visitors.

Art Institute of Chicago application

If you don’t want to spend money on the Museum’s audio guide, the next best option is to download their mobile app.

The app uses location-aware technology with audio storytelling, and it seems as if the art itself is speaking to you. 

Here is how the mobile application works:

The app is available for both iPhone and Android phones.

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If you plan to stay longer at the Art Museum, you must recharge yourself at regular intervals.

Or better still, before entering the Museum, you can try out the many eat outs nearby.

Restaurants at the Art Institute

The Art Museum has three unique places to eat.

1. Museum Café

It is open daily from 11 am to 4 pm.

From Wednesday to Friday the Museum Cafe stays open from 5 pm to 7:30 pm.

2. Terzo Piano

Serves lunch from 11 am to 3 pm, daily.

On Thursday you can get dinner too, from 5 pm to 8 pm.

The place also offers Sunday brunches from 11 am to 3 pm.

3. Balcony Café

The café opens daily from 10:30 pm to 4:30 pm.

On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to accommodate the extra crowd it stays open till 7 pm.

Restaurants near Art Institute of Chicago

If you want a quick eat, head out to Roti Mediterranean Grill, The Fat Shallot or Le Pain Quotidien.

It is natural to expect bang for the buck when you are traveling with a big family or group.

In such a case, we recommend the value for money restaurants near Art Institute of Chicago such as Goddess and The Baker, Oasis Café or Shake Shack.

For a comfortable sit-down-and-eat experience after all the walking, check out Brightwok Kitchen, Italian Village, or Revival Foodhall.

Popular attractions in Chicago
# Chicago Architecture Tours
# Chicago Skydeck
# Field Museum
# 360 Chicago

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Uplabdhi Kamboj

She believes that the world is full of must-see places and must-do adventures, and has a never-ending list of places she wants to visit.

Driven by a passion for the outdoors, she connects better with nature, and wildlife more than Museums and monuments.

Favorite Cities: Cape Town, Kathmandu, Hanoi, Reykjavik, Vienna

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